Area women will set out to conquer the outdoors
SIKESTON -- Move over Davy Crockett, make room for some new "Queens of the Wild Frontier."
For two days next month, a group of area women will conquer the outdoors by hunting, fishing and navigating their way around Big Oak Tree State Park in East Prairie.
A first-time event, the SwampEast Women in the Outdoors Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will host a dove hunt for females 14 and older from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, and from 5 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14.
"A lot of women have husbands who hunt or know men who have hunted," pointed out Robyn Sitzes, SwampEast's event coordinator. "Many times, they wanted to learn, but weren't given the opportunity because that person didn't take the time or have enough patience to teach them."
Sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation, Women in the Outdoors started in 1998 with 18 pilot programs and 1,300 members nationwide, said Ellen Benitz, regional coordinator for Missouri and Kansas Women in Outdoors. This year there are 380 programs and 45,000 members throughout the nation.
"The National Wild Turkey Federation basically gives Women in the Outdoors a certain amount of income to help get women more involved with outdoor activities," Sitzes explained.
SwampEast Women in the Outdoors was formed after Sitzes and some friends attended a similar program in Cape Girardeau last year.
"I noticed a lot of ladies who didn't know how to hunt and were interested, but afraid to do it. It really piqued our interests," Sitzes said.
The Dexter Chapter of Bootheel Gobblers held a Women in the Outdoors event last year at Wappapello, but this is the first hunt for the recently formed SwampEast Women in the Outdoors, Sitzes said.
While the main activity of the two-day event is the dove hunt, the actual hunting will take place only on Sunday. Participants have a choice of attending both days or just Saturday.
Saturday will actually be a combination of orienteering (learning how to read a compass and use maps), plant identifying and bird watching, Sitzes said. The women will also utilize nature trails, learn fishing basics and fly fishing. An instructor will show the women the proper way to cast a rod and fly rod, she explained. Dove hunting basics and a hunting skills safety refresher course will also be discussed on Saturday, she said.
Sunday begins with a dove hunt in morning and outdoor cooking to fix lunch, Sitzes said. Instructors will teach participants how to clean their game and how to cook other wild game for lunch, she explained.
"A lot of ladies aren't quite comfortable enough to do a hunt," Sitze said. "And hunting is basically what we'll be doing Sunday."
Those who want to participate in the dove hunt must have completed a hunter safety course by the Missouri Department of Conservation, Sitzes said.
Hunter safety courses will be conducted Aug. 20-22, and those interested can contact the Missouri Department of Conservation.
While the event is open for women 14 and up, it's mostly the adult women who attend, Sitze said. Those under 18 must have a parent sign them up, she said.
And for some attendees, like Sitzes, they hunted as a kid and enjoyed it.
"It's what I've always done," recalled Sitzes, whose father was a hunter. "I've always liked going hunting since I was 8 years old. I know a lot of friends of mine who have never gotten the opportunity to learn. This is my way of teaching them."
Sunday attendance will be limited to the first 50 participants. Preregistration is required and ends Aug. 31.